Although Jim only lived in Salt Lake for about 7 years, he made a strong impact on the Wasatch climbing community. I first met him in 1975 on the Great Whit Icicle. I was only 15 years old at the time. My brother and I were at the top of the first pitch, moving slowly, trying to figure out this exciting new sport. Without notice, a climber appeared un-roped, carrying an old MSR ice ax. He had a beard, which made him look older to us. Although he was only 19 or 20, he had the look of an experienced, bad ass climber. There was an aura of confidence about him as he spoke. After answering all of our questions, he warned us to be careful, and soloed on up to the top of the climb. We were in awe.
The climbing community was small in those days, and so we ran into Jim soon after. Although we were a couple of young punks, Jim was always friendly, in fact he kind of took us in as a big brother figure. We soon began climbing together. Jim grew up in Washington State, so he naturally favored alpine climbing. He loved photography and often got us together for slide shows/parties. His enthusiasm and spirit always motivated us. In winter, Jim climbed many of the long, steep, high mountain faces in the Wasatch. Routes like NW face of the Pfeifferhorn, South ridge of Superior Pk. South face of Monte Cristo, Perlas Ridge, West Slabs on Mt. Olympus and the NE and NW faces of Storm Mountain. His preparation for these winter adventures included soloing the Great White Icicle 6 times in one day. Some of Jim’s partners were Rick Bradshaw, Rick Wyatt, Dave Jenkins & Hooman Aprin.
[/url]Starting the West Slabs of Mt Olympus...Jim, Howard & Jonathan
Summit Ridge of Mt Olympus.
Jonathan, sitting. Jim on the left and myself on the right. 1978 Photo by Howard Shultz
Hooman. Originally from Iran, was a super nice guy, who would later guide in the Tetons. He became the first Iranian to climb Mt. Everest. While Jim & Hooman were hiking in to climb Storm Mountain one day, they both paused to relieve themselves. Jim asked Hooman if he needed to use any of his toilet paper. His reply was “No, that’s OK, Jim, I’ll use rocks”. I personally think that statement qualifies Hooman to be one of the all time hard men of the Wasatch. What could top that?!
One of Jim’s early adventures took place in Zion National Park, with the possible 2nd or 3rd ascent of the grade VI 2,300’ NW face of the Great White Throne (Beckey, Rowell, Callis) with Dennis Turville. The climb went fine until the descent. They decided to descend south down into the Grotto area. This was unknown territory, and they soon realized that they should have gone to the north. They encountered much steep loose terrain, and bad/soft rock. Unable to climb out of their descent route, they apprehensively continued down, watching their gear dwindle. Scary down climbing, bad anchors, an approaching storm and darkness weighed on their minds. Near the bottom, a 250’ drop with no intermediate rap points greeted them. They decided to tie their two 150’ ropes together to reach the ground. Dennis stayed at the top of the ropes while Jim descended. Exhausted, he headed to the rangers headquarters to see if they had a 300’ single rope so they could pull their 2 ropes down. After some careful negotiations, he managed to talk them into cutting a 250’ piece of rope off of their spool. Hours later in the rain, wind and darkness Jim got the rope up to a rather unhappy Dennis. Finally their epic was over.
Jim also made what I think to be the first one day ascent of Moonlight Buttress, with Rick Bradshaw. His wall climbing experience also included an ascent of the Salathe Wall on El Cap.
Jim’s next big adventure was directed at the North face of Mt. Hooker, in the Wind Rivers. The remote 1,800’ shear granite face at 12,000’ offered an irresistible challenge for him. If this wasn’t enough, Jim wanted to try it in winter. With Hooman, his girl friend Cathy and Mark Bradakus. They spent 10 days just skiing in, carrying 2 weeks of food, big wall gear and winter clothing. The weather was cold & stormy. Exhausted, by the time they reached the wall, they only managed 2 pitches, before retreating because of being short on supplies. Jim said this was the hardest, most unenjoyable trip he had taken in the mountains.
The next summer I got a call from Jim, asking Jonathan and I, if we would like to come into the Winds with them. We would act as a support party for he and Rick Bradshaw on their attempt on Mt Hooker. We gladly accepted. The hike in to our beautiful camp was about 20 miles. Their route involved a lot of hard aid and free climbing. Four days of epic climbing got them to the top. On the second day, Rick had perhaps the most delirious pitch of his life. From below, I was watching him through my binoculars, as he struggled up an unprotected offwidth crack. He didn’t have any wide gear protection, so I knew he was running it out. I saw him slide down the crack and then stop…whew! I could feel the tension. Soon his hat came off as he struggled. The wind carried it upward. He some how got out of the crack and into an exposed layback. He had to be at the end of his strength. Thankfully, he made it to the ledge at the top of the flake.
Here are Jim’s own words:
“Well, what had looked like fist jamming and nice chimney climbing from below turned out to be 5.9 off-width leading up to a 5.10 flaring slot. Rick was up and out of sight when he came to the crux; a narrowing, flared, off-width chimney formed by a huge left leaning flake. I could only stand, staring up at the rock and sky, my body tensed and alert for the big screamer, while I listened to the horrid guttural moans and desperate gasps from above. Before he knew it, Rick found himself twenty-five feet above his last protection, having just completed some irreversible moves. The hoped-for protection spot turned out to be useless. With no rest possible, he continued squirming up the overhanging chimney until it became too narrow for his body. With a last supreme effort he managed to get out of the crack and layback up the last ten feet, forty feet above his last nut.
When I arrived at the belay, I found a stunned zombie who had lost his hat, ripped the front of his new gortex windshirt, and was left a thousand feet up Mt. Hooker with one bad nut for a belay. He had passed the rope behind a big block, figuring if the nut came out, his body would act as a human chockstone.”. They named the infamous slot, “the Syphilitic crack”. In 2 more days of less terrifying climbing, we met them on top, just as the sun was setting. We brought 4 beers for them to celebrate. This was a huge route for the Winds…The Shady Lady VI 5.11 A4.
The Shady Lady, Mt Hooker
Cleaning an expanding flake during an unsuccessful attempt with Jonathan on a new route on Mt. Hooker. This section of the route that I'm on follows the lower section of the Shady Lady
The following year Jim teamed up with Dave Jenkins to make an early 1 day ascent of the Grand Central Couloir, on Mt. Kitchener, in the Canadian Rockies. This was one of the most respected alpine/ice routes done at the time. According to Jim, they had good conditions elsewhere in the Rockies. From below, the Grand Central Couloir looked good. When they arrived at the first steep crux section, Dave got a questionable screw in down low. Higher, the ice was hollow and unprotectable. The climbing was difficult and when he arrived at the 2 wart hog hanging belay, he had no protection in but that first screw.
At the second crux higher up, Jim had similar problems with protection. At a roof he paused for a long time, not being able to get in any protection. He couldn't down climb, so he just went for it risking a long ground fall into the gully. Higher, after sunset Jim aided with their ice axes over the summit cornice to the top. Hallucinating on the descent, they decided it safer to suffer a cold bivy than to risk descending the steep terrain in the dark. My best climb with Jim was an early ascent of Stairway to Heaven in 1978 with my brother Jonathan. Jim climbed with a hummingbied (a short ice tool with a drooped tublar pick) and a Porterdactyl ( a prototype pick designed by Charlie Porter). We had a Roosterhead, a Stubi Hidden peak and 2 hummingbirds. Although in thin conditions, the climb went well.
Our Tools! ...Lowe Hummingbird, Roosterhead, Hummingbird, Forrest Molner III, Stubi Hidden Peak, Porterdactyl & MSR ice ax.
Jim leading the last pitch
After graduating from the U of U Jim moved to Germany to teach, climb in the Alps and pursue photography. He climbed the Triolet in the Mt. Blanc Massive, with my brother Jonathan. Jim currently lives in the Seattle Area.
Jim getting a little help from the rope!
Last edited by bsmoot
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